A mobile analyst firm is forecasting that more than one billion tablets would be in use globally by the end of 2017.
This was up from 200 million at the start of this year, CSS Insight said.
The company’s 2013 tablet market forecast expected that while Apple’s volume sales would continue to grow up to 2015, its market share would slip as Android devices continued their onward march of market share, capturing low to mid tier in developed markets and a “significant share” in emerging markets.
The biggest unknown was how Microsoft would pan out and whether the third ecosystem of a major mobile player aside from Apple and Google would finally be established, CSS Insight said.
Winning a significant share in the tablet market was a must for the company, CSS Insight director of forecasting Marina Koytcheva said, but it faced challenges with Windows 8.
“The current licence fees for Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT mean it’s hard for manufacturers to compete effectively and make a reasonable margin on tablets at the right prices, despite Microsoft’s effort to increase marketing support. Furthermore, the availability and quality of apps for Windows 8 are not strong enough.”
The last sentence certainly rings true for many people who have bemoaned the state of Microsoft’s Windows Phone store, something which often lets down its handsets in reviews (see our Lumia 820, 920 and 620 reviews).
Addressing the dearth of apps and app quality was home territory for Microsoft, which knew how to work successfully with developers, CSS Insight said, but this would take time.
“Optimising Microsoft Office for tablets is also imperative. Until this is resolved Microsoft will remain on the back foot.”
What Mobile’s review of the Microsoft Surface, running Windows RT, made the same point, noting that the operating system seemed to be a weird hash of a tablet interface with a computer back end.
Tablet market worth $US95 billion in 2017
The company forecast that the global tablet market would be worth $US95 billion with 419 million units sold by 2017. Tablet adoption had been faster than expected in some emerging markets such as China, as prices fell, since June last year, Koytcheva said.
“We now expect 181 million tablets to be sold worldwide in 2013, and have uplifted our forecast until 2017.”